LE BROCHURE NOVEMBER 1948 (LOOKING BACK No.25)
Veloce made a pretty good effort of publicising their new L.E. model. In the run up to the November 1948 Earls Court Show, the weekly magazines The Motor Cycle and Motor Cycling published detailed technical appraisals - along with sectioned drawings showing the L.E.'s many unusual design features. These were followed by largely eulogistic road tests as was the convention of the time. But aware that their new 'everyman' model was a make or break commercial decision, Veloce had been stoking up demand during the previous months with the three Advance Information Bulletins already seen in this Looking Back series 21 - 23. In fact I now realise that the Factory also produced a consolidated bulletin just before the show, containing the three previous leaflets in one publication.
However, it was the main L.E. brochure - available for the first time at the show - which really launched the L.E., not least because it gave details of the machine's specification and most important of all, its selling price: £99 10s 0d - plus Purchase Tax for UK buyers
The double folded brochure measured 17 x 11 in - an Imperial size known at the time as Ledger or Tabloid - and was printed largely in black and white, with blue highlights. The opening photograph showed a casually dressed couple - deliberately not wearing the derigueur raincoat and boots favoured by motorcyclists of the time - admiring views of the Mawddach estuary in mid Wales. Added to the photograph as if it had just been parked up, is one of the five pre-production L.E.s HON 612 amateurishly pasted into position.
The brochure's inside spread is reproduced here, featuring an artist's enhanced photograph of the L.E.'s right-hand side above a detailed panel listing the machine's specification. Oil and petrol capacities are mentioned, as is he use of Zerol bevel gears - a design where the teeth are curved - but not the machine's weight: 250lb dry.
Around the main panel are a series of detailed views showing the L.E.'s notable features: battery location under the saddle, the link between hand starter and stand, the accurate suspension etc. The position of the rider's feet, straddling comfortably the footboard's two levels is also shown, as is the packed contents of the engine generator casing. This unit was designed specially for the L.E. by British Thomson-Houston of Rugby. The early type of lower water hose - with a metal central section - is also shown, secured by the corresponding Terry clips which have characteristic rounded corners to the folded sections where the fixing bolt passes through.
This brochure comes from the late Mike Payne's collection and I wonder if it is the copy he picked up at Velocette's Earl Court stand in November 1948? Sixty-two years after its publication, this brochure has become a collector's item, with copies changing hands at £35 or even more.
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